No polish can make sterling; and that vice,

Though well perfumed and elegantly dress'd,

Like an unburied carcass trick'd with flowers,

Is but a garnish'd nuisance, fitter far

For cleanly riddance than for fair attire.

So life glides smoothly and by stealth away,

More golden than that age of fabled gold

Renown'd in ancient song; not vex'd with care

Or stain'd with guilt, beneficent, approved

Of God and man, and peaceful in its end.

So glide my life away! and so at last,

My share of duties decently fulfill'd,

May some disease, not tardy to perform

Its destined office, yet with gentle stroke,

Dismiss me weary to a safe retreat,

Beneath the turf that I have often trod.

It shall not grieve me, then, that once, when calPd

To dress a Sofa with the flowers of verse,

I play'd awhile, obedient to the fair,

With that light task; but soon, to please her more,

Whom flowers alone I knew would little please,

Let fall the unfinish'd wreath, and roved for fruit;

Roved far, and gather'd much: some harsh, 'tis

Pick'd from the thorns and briers of reproof,
But wholesome, well digested; grateful some
To palates that can taste immortal truth;
Insipid else, and sure to be despised.
But all is in His hand, whose praise I seek.
In vain the poet sings, and the world hears,

If he regard not, though divine the theme.
'Tis not in artful measures, in the chime
And idle tinkling of a minstrel's lyre,
To charm his ear, whose eye is on the heart;
Whose frown can disappoint the proudest strain,
Whose approbation—prosper even mine.


Dear Joseph—five and twenty years ago—
Alas, how time escapes !—'tis even so—
With frequent intercourse, and always sweet,
And always friendly, we were wont to cheat
A tedious hour—and now we never meet!
As some grave gentleman in Terence says
('Twas therefore much the same in ancient days),
Good lack, we know not what to-morrow brings—
Strange fluctuation of all human things!
True. Changes will befall, and friends may part,
But distance only cannot change the heart:
And were I call'd to prove the assertion true,
One proof should serve—a reference to you.

Whence comes it then, that in the wane of life, Though nothing have occurr'd to kindle strife, We find the friends we fancied we had won, Though numerous once, reduced to few or none? Can gold grow worthless that has stood the touch? No; gold they seem'd, but they were never such.

Horatio's servant once, with bow and cringe, Swinging the parlour door upon its hinge, Dreading a negative, and overawed Lest he should trespass, begg'd to go abroad. Go, fellow !—whither ?—turning short about—

Nay—stay at home—you're always going out.
'Tis but a step, sir, just at the street's end.—
For what ?—An please you, sir, to see a friend.—
A friend! Horatio cried, and seem'd to start—
Yea marry shalt thou, and with all my heart.
And fetch my cloak; for, though the night be raw,
I'll see him too—the first I ever saw.

I knew the man, and knew his nature mild,
And was his plaything often when a child;
But somewhat at that moment pinch'd him close,
Else he was seldom bitter or morose.
Perhaps, his confidence just then betray'd,
His grief might prompt him with the speech he

Perhaps 'twas mere good humour gave it birth.
The harmless play of pleasantry and mirth.
Howe'er it was, his language, in my mind,
Bespoke at least a man that knew mankind.

But not to moralize too much, and strain
To prove an evil of which all complain
(I hate long arguments verbosely spun);
One story more, dear Hill, and I have done.
Once on a time an emperor, a wise man,
!No matter where, in China or Japan,
Decreed that whosoever should offend
Against the well known duties of a friend,
Convicted once, should ever after wear
But half a coat, and show his bosom bare.
The punishment importing this, no doubt,
That all was naught within, and all found out.

Oh, happy Britain! we have not to fear Such hard and arbitrary measure here; Else, could a law like that which I relate Once have the sanction of our triple state, Some few, that I have known in days of old, Would run most dreadful risk of catching cold; While you, my friend, whatever wind should blow, Might traverse England safely to and fro, An honest man, close-button'd to the chin, Broad-cloth without, and a warm heart within.

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